Malaysia PM says Goldman Sachs must renegotiate 1MDB settlement

SINGAPORE – Malaysia’s prime minister vowed Wednesday to chase a new settlement from US investment bank Goldman Sachs for its role in the billion-dollar corruption scandal at the 1MDB state fund.

Anwar Ibrahim said he would push to renegotiate a deal his predecessor agreed with the bank three years ago, warning it not to take advantage of the Southeast Asian nation.

Under that 2020 settlement, Goldman Sachs paid Malaysia $2.5 billion for its role in the financial scandal, while Kuala Lumpur agreed to end all criminal proceedings against the bank.

“I would convey clearly to Goldman Sachs that we have to put an end to this,” Anwar told a business conference in Singapore.

“We are a small nation, but you can’t take us for a ride.”

Anwar called the settlement unfair and vowed to “take a tougher line”, but stopped short of saying his government would file a lawsuit against the bank.

Last month, Anwar told CNBC in an interview that he was not discounting the possibility of filing lawsuits against the bank.

Goldman has always denied any wrongdoing in the case.

The 1MDB scandal led to investigations around the world, including in the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, into the use of their financial systems to launder money.

Cash plundered from state coffers bankrolled a global spending spree, and was used to buy everything from artwork, to real estate and a superyacht.

Goldman’s role came under scrutiny over bond issues totalling $6.5 billion it helped arrange for 1MDB, with Malaysia claiming large amounts were misappropriated.

“You can’t consider us as some banana republic that you can squander and then leave us alone,” Anwar said. 

“I will not stop because it’s not my money. I owe it to my people.”

Anwar said he will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly next week but would not be meeting bank representatives.

In March, a US judge sentenced former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng to 10 years in prison following his conviction in the scandal.

Another former Goldman banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating US anti-bribery and money laundering laws, agreeing to pay $43.7 million in restitution.

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was ousted in 2018 and jailed for 12 years on corruption charges linked to the case. – AFP / pic BLOOMBERG